Monday, December 08, 2008

Where will Obama take the Arts?

If only our national economy had made as much progress in 2008 as some of our arts agencies. Unfortunately, we face 2009 with a host of uncertainties as to how the new administration will deal with the nation’s problems and how the whole of the arts community will fare in the mix.

President-Elect Obama's arts platform has been received enthusiastically by most arts advocacy organizations, but it is clear that federal, state, and local governments are going to find it hard to increase spending on the arts in the face of that now officially announced major “recession.” William Ivry, the former NEA chairman who is serving as the arts point man on Obama's transition team, recently canceled a scheduled appearance on an Arts Webinar because “The Obama team” was not ready to speak on the record about the specifics of any proposals.

Undaunted, the Americans for the Arts has joined other organizations in sending an arts policy brief to the Obama transition office. It deals with everything from the NEA to the role of the arts in education, the workplace, and in life. You can read this comprehensive document by clicking here.

One bright spot is a report from the Medill School at Northwestern University that claims that major Chicago arts organizations are “holding steady in the uncertain economy.” The article discussed institutions like the Lyric Opera, Steppenwolf, the CSO, and the Art Institute. You can read more at: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=104607

There is also some hope that Obama’s new tax policies might encourage increased charitable giving . See the following article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy: http://philanthropy.com/news/updates/index.php?id=6185

To end on a positive note here is a marvelous idea from the current mayor of London, Boris Johnson. He has proposed adding an option to the now ubiquitous OYSTER transportation cards that will give free or cheap entries to museums, theatres and sports centers for seniors and schoolchildren. It is a part of a wider strategy to boost London's cultural life. Read the full story here: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23591256-details/Oyster+card+for+the+arts+in+Mayor's+culture+masterplan/article.do

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